How to Get the Most Out of Direct Seeded Lettuce

About 6 weeks ago I planted lettuce in my cold frame by direct seeding. It grew wonderfully, and I kept thinning a little here and there.

It finally got way too crowded and I decided to take some serious action. Since I’ll be harvesting lettuce in heads instead of just picking leaves here and there, each plant needs a few inches of space on each side. Having the lettuce too close sure looks pretty, but it’s way too crowded for the heads to grow to be nice and big!

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I used a dandelion digger to help dig out/pull up the crowded plants and it worked well. This is how many romaine plants I got from the section in the previous picture!

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Now the lettuce in the cold frame has more room to grow!

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In my big garden I’d planted three hills of butternut squash earlier that day. Since the butternut won’t be up and spreading for a while, I figured I might as well use the empty space around the hills for this lettuce.

I learned from Jan that it’s a great idea to lay out the lettuce where you’re going to transplant them before sticking them in the ground. This saves time and makes the rows more even. The lettuce in this picture is actually green loose leaf from the other side of the cold frame, which I also thinned and then transplanted. I eyeballed the distance between them, but I think it was around 6 inches.

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My soil was loose enough that I didn’t need to dig holes – I just poked at the spot a little with the dandelion digger and used my fingers to press dirt around the roots.

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Can you believe how many plants I rescued from my cold frame?! It was super easy to just direct seed them into the (rather small) cold frame then transplant the thinnings instead of tossing the thinnings in the compost and direct seeding more into the garden. And it’s definitely the cheaper way to go! Doing it this way means I got to use almost every plant that germinated.

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Just a note: the plants will look a bit wilted for a day or two after transplanting. Keep them watered and they’ll pop back in no time!

The Calm Before the Storm

4/10/16 – 4/17/16 Headlines of the week:

  • Making my first official Youtube video
  • Got buckwheat seeds in the mail
  • Enjoying the calm before the storm

This week was pretty slow as far as farming/gardening goes. I’m gearing up for some busy weeks right around the corner, but this week was like the calm before the storm.

Making this Youtube video was pretty fun, and I learned a lot while making this dish from wild dandelion greens and wild garlic. 20160412_194023

When working in my raised bed/cold frame I can go barefoot. So I do, naturally.

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I planted green onions on the other half of my cold frame, but they’re not up yet so I figured I’d spare you a picture of bare dirt and show my lovely lettuce and spinach instead.

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I also got 10 pounds of buckwheat seeds in the mail for a cover crop on my new garden. I won’t be planting that for a bit, though.

And I shall leave you with this picture. Make it a good week, friends!

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Fences, Snow and Seedlings

4/2/16 – 4/9/16 Headlines of the week:

  • Putting up fence posts
  • Cold frame saves seedlings from snow
  • First planting in the hoop house at Jandy’s

I was blessed to have a like-minded friend over for a few days last week, and we had a grand time turning some (dead) ash trees into fence posts for my new garden!  I learned to use a chainsaw, and no one got hurt aside from a few handshakes with unwelcoming thorns.

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This view is quite satisfying. That old shipping crate used to house a goat, but I’ll be using it as storage for my chicken supplies this summer so we drug it into the garden spot to clean it out. Might as well put the leftover manure to work, hmm? My new garden plot is 50′ by 100′ and there’s enough cleared area surrounding it to run my broilers this summer as well. This year I’ll be putting a few rotations of cover crops in my garden spot to prepare the (clay) soil for serious production next summer when I’ll be selling at the Farmers Market.

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Also, it’s Ohio so sometimes we have snow in April. I planted lettuce and spinach in my cold frame about two weeks ago and the snow didn’t bother them one bit!

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Lettuce is on the left and right thirds, while the dark green (almost invisible) spinach is in the middle.

Meanwhile, at Jandy’s…

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I helped transplant lettuce into this hoop house, set up a few pieces of hog fence for peas, and planted peas, radishes, and green onions in here. It was pretty chilly outside (around 35° F) but in the hoop house I was comfortable in just a sweatshirt.